If you smoke or chew tobacco, then you probably already know how difficult it can be to stop. Perhaps you’ve tried quitting in the past, only to return to your old habit after a few weeks, or days. Or, maybe you were smoke-free for years and started up again for one reason or another. Well, have no fear . . . several new medications and other options have come along that can help you break your nicotine habit – and for good this time! Let’s take a look . . .
If you smoke or chew tobacco, then you probably already know how difficult it can be to stop. Perhaps you’ve tried quitting in the past, only to return to your old habit after a few weeks, or days. Or, maybe you were smoke-free for years and started up again for one reason or another.
Whatever the reason for your smoking habit (or return to it), it’s easy to see why quitting is so hard. Nicotine, a chemical found in tobacco products, is a powerful addictive drug. When you take a puff on a cigarette, your brain quickly gets the message that it wants more of the nicotine and other associated chemicals you're taking into your system. That's why quitting smoking is just as hard, sometimes harder, than getting off drugs like cocaine or heroin.
However, several new medications and devices have come along that can help you quit.
Nicotine patches, gum, nasal sprays, and inhalers are among the tools that have worked well for many ex-smokers. Also, a pill called Zybancan reduces the urge to smoke and may make quitting easier.
Some of these products are available over the counter at your drugstore. However, your doctor, a smoking clinic specialist, and other smokers who have quit can be a great help when you are preparing to quit. They often know what to expect, how to plan, and what works and what doesn't work in various situations.
Prepare a Quit-Smoking Plan
Having a plan in place when you’re ready to quit will improve your odds for success. Your doctor or healthcare professional can assist you in your efforts. For most people, the important steps are:
- Set a quit date.
- Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and when. Ask them for support and understanding.
- Change your environment. That means getting rid of cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and workplace (try to get rid of the smell of cigarettes as well). Be sure to avoid all tobacco products, including cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco.
- Begin to change your habits. Try not to smoke in places where you spend a lot of time, such as your home or car.
- Review previous attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what didn't work for you.
When your “quit date” rolls around, stop smoking completely, starting right when you get out of bed. The first few days are usually the hardest, so concentrate on stopping for just one day at a time. Congratulate and reward yourself often for your successes.
Remind yourself that quitting is hard. Although most people need two or more tries before they finally succeed, studies have shown that each time you try to quit, you become stronger and learn more about what helps. If you start smoking again, rethink your plan and start fresh. Right now, half of all people who have ever smoked have quit. You can too.
While a strong support system is essential, it’s also important to take good care of your health as you’re trying to quit. Exercise will strengthen your body and help clear out the tobacco toxins, as will a diet rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients. Purify your system with natural supplements, including things like dandelion root, nettles, and psyllium seeds.